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Lesson #24 Resurrection

(Matthew 27: 57 28: 20)

In Lesson #23 we witnessed Jesus crucifixion, his brutal death on a Roman cross. A profound scene, the physical crucifixion itself was not a unique event; as Josephus, Eusebius, Tacitus and other ancient historians attest, crucifixion was a common method of executing criminals from the lower classes, dating back to the 6th century B.C. and continuing into the reign of Constantine who finally abolished it in A.D. 337. To understand the true import of Jesus crucifixion we need to probe its deeper meaning, examining it in light of the Hebrew Scriptures especially the five great sacrifices in Leviticus and the suffering servant songs in Isaiahas well as the epistles and letters of Paul, Peter and the author of Hebrews. The crucifixion is a subject we have only begun to probe; we shall continue to do so as we make our way verse-by-verse through all of Scripture, Genesis through Revelation.

In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul defines the gospelthe good newsas the death, burial and resurrection of Christwho he is and what he did on our behalf. In this final lesson on the Gospel according to Matthew we will examine Jesus resurrection from several perspectives: 1) the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ, as it is told in our four Gospels; 2) the central role that Jesus resurrection plays in our salvation; and 3) the promise of resurrection that Jesus gave us.

Sandro Bottecelli. Lamentation over the Dead Christ (tempera on panel), c. 1490-1492. Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

St. Paul St. Stephen

(with stone)
(with sword)

St. Peter St. Sebastian

(with arrows))

St. John Mary

(with key)

Mary of Bethany
(conflated with sinful woman at Simon the Pharisees house)

Mary Magdaline

Notice how the line of sight moves from the top left from Stephen to Paul, John, Mary, Sebastian, Mary Magdalene, through the sensuous curve of Jesus limp body to Mary of Bethany at his feet. Notice, too, that Jesus has no facial hair and Peter stands outside the group.

Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Although the Church of the Holy Sepulcher has a greater claim to authenticity as the tomb of Jesus, the Garden Tomb (seen here) makes a much better visual aid! Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

A rolling stone, sealed the tomb. Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

Interior of the Garden Tomb, where Jesus body would be placed. Photography by Ana Maria Vargas





Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene The other Mary The other Mary (wife of Clopas and mother of James and Joseph)

Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene The other Mary (We John 20: 22) Joanna (wife of Herods steward Chuza, Luke 8:2-3)

Lorenzo Monaco. The Three Marys at the Tomb (illuminated Manuscript), 1396. Muse de Louvre, Paris.

Empty Garden Tomb: He is not here for he is risen. Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

Fra Angelico. The Women at the Tomb (fresco), c. 1437-1436. Museo di San Marco, Florence.

The four GospelsMatthew, Mark, Luke and Johndiffer in their account of the resurrection:
1. The exact time the women visit the tomb. 2. The number and identity of the women who visit the tomb. 3. The purpose of the womens visit. 4. The appearance and identity of the messenger(s), whether they are angelic or human. 5. The message to the women. 6. The womens response to the message.

Although the four Gospels differ in the details of Jesus resurrection, all four Gospels agree on several key points:
1. All pay close attention to the large and heavy stone that had sealed the tomb. 2. The women visit the tomb on the first day of the week (Sunday). 3. Jesus appears first to the women, who are then commissioned to tell the men. 4. Mary Magdalene is the most prominent figure in the resurrection scene.

Women play a major role in the resurrection scene, as they do in Jesus ministry and in the early Church.
1. Many women were Jesus disciples in both Galilee and Jerusalem (Matthew 27: 55); 2. John was the only man at the foot of the cross; the rest were women; 3. Women announce the resurrection to the men; 4. Mary Magdalene becomes known as the apostle to the Apostles. 5. Of the 29 people Paul knows in the Church at Rome, 9 are women, all of whom serve in leadership roles (Romans 16).

Resurrection differs from Resuscitation

Many people in Scripture have been raised from the dead:
1. Elijah raises the widow of Zaraphaths son (1 Kings 17: 7-24);
2. 3. Elisha raises the Shunammites son (2 Kings 4: 8-37); Jesus raises Jairus daughter (Mark 5: 21-43; Luke 8: 40-56); The widow of Nains son (Luke 7: 11-17); and Lazarus (John 11: 38-44). Tombs were opened and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised (Matthew 27: 52).


These are resuscitations, a dead corpse reanimated.

The Resurrected Body of Christ

Jesus crucified, dead body was put into the tomb on Friday, before sunset; Jesus resurrected body came out of the tomb on Sunday, sometime before early morning; When the stone was rolled away from the tomb, Jesus was already gone; Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to stop holding on to me (John 20: 17), as if he is somehow uncomfortable in his newly-resurrected body. When people who know Jesus intimately first see him, they do not recognize him; Jesus suddenly appears in a locked room; Jesus resurrected body bears the nail marks and side wound; Jesus in his resurrected body eats and has flesh and bones. Jesus spends 40 days with his disciples; he then ascends bodily into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

The resurrected body of Christ is the prototype for our resurrected bodies.
But some may say, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back? (1 Corinthians 15: 35) The brightness of the sun is one kind, the brightness of the moon and the brightness of the stars another. For star differs from star in brightness. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It [the body] is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible . . . If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one . . . The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven . . . Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. (1 Corinthians 15: 41-49)

As an acorn is

to an oak tree,

so is an earthly body

to a resurrected body.

What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. What you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind; but God gives it a body as he chooses, and to each of the seeds its own body. (1 Corinthians 15: 36-37)

I believe in the resurrection of the body.

(Nicene Creed, A.D. 325)

In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus Resurrection.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 997)

The Great Commission

Go . . . And make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.
(Matthew 28: 19-20)


2. 3. 4. 5.

The Gospel according to Matthew serves as a prelude to the New Testament, functioning as a swinging door between the Old and New Testaments, reaching back to Genesis and bringing forward the linear narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures to introduce the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew is written by a Jew for a Jewish audience, employing a variety of Hebraic literary devices. The underlying architecture of Matthew is a perfectly balanced mirrored chiastic framework. Imbedded within that framework is the archetype of the heros journey. At both the macro and micro levels, Matthew is meticulously crafted: structurally, rhetorically and stylistically.

1. 2. 3. 4.


What is the difference between resuscitation and resurrection? What was Mary Magdalene doing at Jesus tomb early Sunday morning? Why do you think Jesus appeared to the women first? What precautions did the Jewish leadership take after Jesus death to ensure that the threat from him was over? Did they work? What obligations does The Great Commission place upon us today?

Copyright 2014 by William C. Creasy

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